The term is employed by geographers, who divide the globe into parallel bands or zones of a determined breadth. By physicians it implies different regions cither of more steady or more temperate warmth, more or less dry or damp.
Each state of climate may be adapted to different situations and constitutions; but, in this article, we must confine ourselves to more general remarks. Climates, as distinguished geographically, can form no part of our present subject, since we may freeze within the tropics, for even there we find regions of perpetual snow, and be relaxed by the short, though warm and humid atmosphere within the arctic circle, during its short but unremitted summer heat. In general, the interior of islands or continents offers the highest mountains, consequently the coldest situations; and these are usually, from causes unnecessary to explain in this place, generally much nearer the western than the eastern coasts. In cold climates, the body is robust, and the constitutions subject to inflammatory diseases: in these regions the invalid seeks the bracing and elastic breezes; but he must inhale them with caution; they may prove too astringent; the excitability may be accumulated in a noxious degree; and an accidental cold induce the most dangerous inflammatory diseases,more imminently dangerous as the constitution cannot bear to be depressed, since the former debility may be rapidly induced. The invalid should therefore proceed with caution, and mount the lesser heights before he ascends the Alpine mountains. The hills of Devonshire may pre-him for the mountains of Wales, and these again for the Highlands of Scotland. It is an advantage that in these situations there are numerous shelters from the eastern blasts, which are proverbially baleful.
In every country the climate near the sea is mild and moist, if we except the eastern shore of this island during the spring and early summer months. The coasts have been consequently recommended to consumptive patients, though not always with the expected advantages. Yet the air is more temperate in winter, and the heat more tolerable in summer; and in situations not exposed to the east, it would appear,a priori, a situation truly desirable. Dr. Rush has suggested that disad-vantagesmay arise from the mixture of sea and land air; but until these have been found to differ, we may neglect the distinction as an unnecessary refinement. It is probable that the air is of a lower quality, that is, contains a less proportion of oxygen; but this state of the air is certainly beneficial to hectics: and, as we have hinted, if Bristol is ever advantageous, it must be in the lower situations. By a refinement, not unlike Dr. Rush's, it has been supposed that sea coasts, where no river conveys its water to the ocean, are preferable to the large estuaries. If the mixture of water and dry air is not injurious, we cannot suppose that this idea is well founded; on the contrary, where no river leaves an opening for free ventilation, storms most tremendous occasionally burst from the mountains with the most piercing coldness. This happens in many of the boasted retreats on the northern side of the Mediterranean.
In general, as we have said, we must not look for heat or cold by the measure of the latitude, but by con-ilating the situation; and we can only look for a steady even temperature where the ventilation from land to sea, or the contrary, is free from obstacles. In the lower (or comparatively the lower) regions, surrounded with hills, we shall chiefly find damp situations, air of a lower quality, and a steady temperature, though occasionally interrupted by storms. Such spots are seldom unhealthy, and the asthmatic patient breathes in them with more freedom. Such is the famous valley of Cashmire; and such spots abound on the Alps, particularly in the once happy country of Switzerland. They may be sought for as remedies; but confinement in them, without change, predisposes to diseases, arising from languor and diminished irritability.
The famous resorts of invalids were Lisbon, Madeira, and the south of France. To Lisbon there seems little objection, but that the temperature is not steady, and it is occasionally subject to piercing colds. Madeira has the inconveniences attributed to those coasts not ventilated by large rivers; and the most favourite spots in the south of France are equally subject to sudden and violent storms. When a change of climate is requisite. every advantage apparently may be gained by different situations in our own island, with the additional one of customs, language, etc. familiar to the patient. Illness, in the best regulated minds, occasions peevishness, at least irritability; and the want of the accustomed indulgences seldom fails, even though in trifles, to occasion fretfulness, which astonishes the attendants, and indeed the patient himself on recovery.
The French physicians have set an example well worthy of our imitation, viz. the publication of a medical topography of different situations. Such accounts, including the temperature, the state of the air, the rains, and prevailing winds and diseases, would be highly valuable if executed without prejudices. Our "Guides to watering places"are unfortunately dictated by the most interested motives: every advantage is magnified, every inconvenience concealed. Such topographies should be executed by medical visitants, could they be candid; and not, like Smollet, view every thing with a prejudiced eye, and a distempered imagination.